The new Formula 1-season is well underway, and now we also get the annual edition of the official video game, F1 22.
With Codemasters being bought by EA, many racing fans have been worried for the F1 games and which direction the series is heading. We won't claim it is EA's fault, but F1 22 brings some new stuff that we really see no need for in our favourite open-wheeler video game.
Let's start off with the obvious content not needed in a F1-game, supercars. In F1 22 supercars are introduced as an extra gimmick. Pirelli Hot Lap challenges and time trials can be done in one of ten (including the two safety cars if you pre-order the game) supercars from McLaren, Aston Martin, Mercedes or Ferrari. The challenges consist of drifting, average speed zone, checkpoint challenge and more. It doesn't really give you any reward other than progress towards total driven miles that you need to unlock these supercars for use in time trial, but during the career mode it comes in handy as you are paid both money and R&D points, which are always welcomed.
The supercars handle horribly and in no fashion can compete with racing games like Gran Turismo, Assetto Corsa or rFactor. It's what we said in the beginning; a gimmick, and nothing more. We see absolutely no reason for this to be in the game.
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But there are also new additions that are welcome to the series. The new Miami International Autodrome and updates to Spain, Australia and Abu Dhabi are for sure a good addition, together with sprint races on the corresponding race weekends reflecting real life. The new designs of the cars, sporting regulations and aero rules are of course also introduced to the game, and they have reworked the handling, tire models and physics to make us feel that difference. On paper. We have to admit, the difference isn't huge when we place ourselves behind the wheel in F1 22, but slight adjustments can be felt.
F1 Life allows us to show off a collection of fashion, accessories, trophies and of course the "fantastic" supercars that we own. How do you get new clothing and accessories? Well of course, microtransactions. Some stuff can be unlocked by just playing the game of course, or through podium pass, but in general it's clear that they want you to use your hard-earned money to make your social hub look nice. Thankfully, these are all cosmetics and does not impact performance at all. Supercars can only be earned through racing, and not bought. To get all the supercars unlocked you need about five hours of game time, at most. Leaving the Pirelli Hot Lap Challenges the only grind in the game if you, like us, have an obsession about getting gold on every challenge.
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An immersive style of pit stops, formation laps and safety car periods are introduced, making you have to deal with various elements of these scenarios yourself, and with that comes great risk. You can lose a full second if you miss the timing of turning into the pit box, and in F1 every second really counts. You're also be tasked with precisely taking your place on the starting grid, again with the risk of making mistakes that cost you in the beginning of the race. Thankfully, for those of us that just want to race the Formula 1 car around the track, there is a broadcast option that leaves everything to the computer while you watch it from exciting camera views we know from TV.
Finally, there is a change to how we start the MyTeam mode. We get to choose between newcomer, challenger or front runner, which allows you to pick what performance and budget our team will start with. The Career mode has also seen some minor improvements with expanded department events and threaded cross-race questions. Minor changes, but welcome changes.
The audio section brings EA Music Playlist to the series for the first time, which features a global roster of electronic and dance artists. This is far off the genre we find ourselves listening to, so we're glad the option of themed music is still present, and this will also help streamers that are worried about playing licensed music.
If you are the lucky owner of a gaming PC and a VR headset, you are in in for a treat. F1 22 brings VR support for the first time, and even though we sadly didn't have a VR headset available for this review, it sure does sound exciting. We hope to come back at a later point with our thoughts on the mode.
The last addition we will mention this time around is the new adaptive AI system. If you choose the casual race style in simulation settings you get the option of either Normal or Full adaptive AI, where the latter gives a more detailed experience as the AI uses the players position on the track and adjusts their speed and competitiveness based on it.
Now to finish off with the important parts. How does the gameplay feel and sound? Well, as we mentioned earlier there isn't a huge difference from F1 2021, and we don't really mind that as the handling in that game was fair. There are small adjustments made to fit the new regulations, and to improve the feel from last year, but nothing revolutionary. The audio picture is pretty much the same (except the earlier mentioned soundtracks), and there supposedly is some new commentary content for the various regions, but things like the engineer voiceovers are something that will be released on the day zero patch, which we did not have access to at the point of this review.
There are many players out there who want to play the F1 games on controller, and lately they have been in luck as the game has been playing very well even without having a wheel setup, but for F1 22 we strongly recommend getting a wheel setup, even if its one of the cheaper ones. The gameplay just isn't as good with controller this year as it has been, and it totally lacks the feel the last few games, especially F1 2021, has given us. It wasn't until I plugged in the Logitech G923 wheel that I fully got to enjoy the game as it's intended.
Overall, F1 22 is a better game in some areas, but replacing Aiden Jackson, Casper Ackerman and Devon Butler from the Braking Point series with supercars was a bad move in our eyes. The game still plays well, has good content for those who are fans of Formula 1, but they could have used resources in other places and come off better. That being said, with the new regulations and cars, we will continue to play this over last year's edition, but only because of that.
7 / 10
Nice graphics. Feels good. Small improvements here and there.
Minor changes from last year. Replacing Braking Point with Supercars for whatever reason. Controller play worse than last year.